As the Ice Bucket Challenge has made its way around the internet, showering its frigid grip on celebrity and regular folk alike, it’s stirred up both admiration and ire.
Yet the practice of dumping things over your head, on video, to raise money and consciousness for an issue has caught on around the globe like wildfire.
In Palestine, it started in the form of the rubble bucket challenge. Journalist Ayman Aloul noted that he wanted to raise awareness (and money) for those in Gaza suffering from the recent devastation. However, there is no ice in Gaza. The only thing it has in any excess, at the moment, is the rubble of bombed out buildings.
Aloul posted his ‘rubble bucket challenge’ to Youtube and soon found others following suit. NGOs that work in Gaza, along with celebrities from around the Arab world, began participating in the challenge. Even as recently as last week, the rubble bucket challenge was taken to Washington DC. There pro-Palestinian activists stood in front of the White House pouring sand and dirt and rubble over their heads to raise awareness for the Palestinian cause.
Half a world away in India, activists have also devised their own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge. To raise awareness for the crippling hunger issues that their country faces, they’ve invented the Rice Bucket Challenge. Now before you think these activists have gone off and decided to dump buckets of rice over their head, effectively wasting this valuable resource, think again. These participants are actually just encouraged to donate a bucket of rice to someone in need.
Their Facebook Page, which covers the news surrounding donations as well as citizens that participate in the challenge, is a mish mash of encouragement and hope.
That said, much like the Ice Bucket Challenge, both of these have come under considerable criticism.
Initially, the problems that some noted with the Ice Bucket Challenge involved the notion that simply ‘raising awareness’ wasn’t good enough. “I tend to be skeptical of organizations or campaigns where the main focus is to ‘raise awareness.’ In this case, I’m not sure how raising awareness is actively helping people who suffer from ALS. Does pouring a bucket of ice water over your head get us any closer to finding a cure?” wrote Kara Brown in early August. “Am I supposed to feel bad for these people who are shivering and wet on their own accord? Because I’d rather save that concern for people suffering from an actual disease. I suppose it’s kind of ballsy to put yourself through a few moments of discomfort, but being ballsy is not the same as being brave.”
However, according to the Boston Globe, $94 million have been raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge. With all that funding coming in, many are wondering if a cure for this awful disease is on the horizon.
However, from an African perspective, many are wondering why are we suddenly raising money for ALS when we have an Ebola epidemic of unprecedented proportions going on. Of course one disease does not negate the other, but NGOs and medical groups have questioned why nobody seems that keen to raise money to fight against Ebola.
However, sooner rather than later we might see a bucket challenge to raise money for just that. One marketing consultant living in Kampala, Uganda broached the question to a group last week, “What should we pour over our heads to raise money or awareness for the Ebola crisis?” Someone from the crowd shouted up, “coins” another “disinfectant.” The group laughed.
However, the bottom line remains clear: the bucket challenge has clearly been an effective social media tool for bringing in charity for ALS. Now that it’s spread into different incarnations internationally, it will be interesting to see if other groups can achieve the same success.